For the New York Yankees and their fans this season, the only thing that can be better than winning the 2009 World Series would be to defend the title again this year. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that they are once again the favorites because they always have the best team on paper. The Yankees are constantly bringing in new talent each year so the team’s chemistry in the locker room is always a concern. As is the case with most teams, it is usually a matter of if the players can mesh together throughout a whole season. As part of being a Yankee, you have to be media-friendly because the New York media is relentless in their coverage of the Yankees all season long. They will be the first ones to pat them on the back when they have a great game and be the first ones to let them have it when the team is in a slump. As you can imagine, in a one-hundred and sixty-two game season, team’s experience slumps and don’t play up to par the entire season. So to be able to bounce back and not lose your cool to the media is pivotal to being a part of the hated Yankees.
This past off-season, the Yankees were relatively quiet by their standards. Their biggest move was acquiring outfielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team trade. In addition to adding Granderson to their roster, some other moves included bringing back former Yankee, Nick Johnson, to be their DH as well as trading for another former Yankee in Javier Vazquez. By acquiring Vazquez, the Yankees now have four legitimate starters that could realistically eat up eight-hundred innings and sixty-five plus wins. Contrary to prior years, this team has very little moving parts and they are built to win in October. If they don’t bring home their twenty-eighth championship, I would be surprised but unhappy because I am a Yankees hater and I don’t think it would be good for the game of baseball to have them repeat, again.
Mark Teixeira joined ESPN New York to talk about whether he has done anything different this spring to avoid his usual slow April starts to the season, how he feels this spring vs. last spring, and whether winning the World Series lived up to his expectations.
On him getting hit by a pitch last week in spring training:
“Anytime you get hit on a bone whether it is the hand or the elbow, the knee or something like that, you kind of check and make sure that everything is all right there for a little while. Once I get into the training room, the Orioles doctor came over and did all of these tests and everything checked out.”
How he felt during spring training and how his swing feels:
“I feel good. Spring training to me is really getting my body ready for one-hundred and sixty-two games. The last week of spring is really kind of getting into that in-season game mode and making sure that I am taking the right amount of ground balls and swings, not to over do it so I have plenty of energy for the games.”
Whether he has done anything different this spring to avoid his usual slow April starts to the season:
“No, I mean I went out and had a great spring training last year and I thought it would be a good April. Unfortunately I had a wrist issue that kind of derailed my April but at the same time whatever happens in April throughout my whole career it has always allowed me to have great rest of the seasons. So I am not sure why it happens. I work my butt off in spring training to try to have a good start but I am not going to say what happened during the first seven years of my career has anything to do with this April so I am going to go out and expect the best.”
How he feels this spring vs. last spring:
“Much more relaxed. The first year in New York couldn’t have worked out any better for myself and the team obviously. I think a lot of the anxiety of going into a new team, especially it being the Yankees and all of their tradition with the big contract and everyone having high expectations, there is a lot of anxiety that comes with that and last year that was definitely around in spring training and the first of the year, but this year is totally different.”
Whether winning the World Series lived up to his expectations:
“That and so much more. I really cant explain the feeling and the satisfaction of just the childlike joy you are going to have as a World Champion, especially doing it as a Yankee. When you win a championship in New York, the whole city. You feel the whole city. I tell people, they say, ‘What is it like to play in the stadium?’ Well there is fifty-thousand people in the stadium but you feel six million people. I truly believe that the city of New York is the best place to play in the world. It all came to fruition there at the end of the season when we won the championship.”